Now that I’m working on finalizing a manuscript, I thought I should make a post outlining some of the ways a writer can actually go about finishing a story. Please note: These would be methods to use without the aid of a professional editor, though they would still work before sending a manuscript in to a publisher as well!
So here goes!
This is, of course, the best way to get your book finalized. You’ve edited and post edited, rewritten scenes and reworded sentences, and now you’ve reached the final draft mode where you can actually see a finish line. Save the document as a file that’s not editable (I always export as a PDF), and then go in to read it like you’ve just bought it from a store (or an ebook retailer).
The point of this is that you’re reading it, not editing. Sure, make notes of any problems you come across, but don’t actually EDIT them (unless it’s a misspelling or some other grammatical error). Go back once you’re done with your read through, get to the part you didn’t like, and read it again. Maybe you’ll like it better now, so it might not require any drastic changes.
2. Spend some time off.
Not too much time, we don’t want you shelving the book and never returning! This time could be used to format the manuscript, market it, or create the cover if you haven’t already. Even writing a synopsis since we all know how hard those can be to get down (that is, if you’re in need of one, which you will be if publishing is your goal (everyone needs a blurb to sell it!)).
Or just do something completely unrelated to writing at all. But whatever you decide, take some time before going in to do a read through.
3. Read it out loud.
It’s amazing how actually saying a line can either tip you off to a more practical way of wording a sentence, or just show whether it’s jarring/repetitive/even needs to be there. This works particularly well for spoken dialogue because when it’s read aloud, and it doesn’t sound like something that might come out of a person’s mouth, you’ll know if it needs changing!
4. Get Beta Readers.
Pass your manuscript along to a few friends (preferably more than one person) and let them take a look at the story, make note of any parts they don’t like, or mark off any grammar/spelling errors. Ask them to be brutally honest, or in the very least, constructively critical with your work. This also works well with taking time off to refresh your mind as you can wait on the beta reader’s feedback before going in to make your final adjustments.
5. Don’t lose any steam!
My last tip here is not to let yourself get overwhelmed with the thought of “oh god this is all wrong!” When finalizing a story, you might start to put yourself down when you come across errors, or a particular part of the story that doesn’t flow the way you want it to even though you’ve rewritten it fifty times already. Just remember that every author has to rewrite scenes they’ve written a million times, and it’s all a part of hammering out the kinks.
So don’t get disgruntled! In fact, making a diagram of each chapter on a sheet of paper and writing down what the theme is may help you to get that flow back together if it’s out of whack, and if it’s a lot of grammar errors you’re worried with, hey, look up words you’re unsure about! It may be a time consuming process, but the end product will be all the better for it, and you’ll be happy that you did it!